By Brian McInnis
Tuesday's docket in the College Summer League offered hoops watchers a chance for the two most productive Hawaii players in the competition, Isaac Fleming and Michael Thomas, to go head to head.
Fleming and the more veteran Clark Hatch Fitness team got the better of this contest, and it wasn't close, 136-93 over National Fire Protection.
Fleming's 31-point total wasn't his personal best in the league, but between that and some consistently good passing for easy buckets, it was probably his best all-around effort.
"It was me just telling myself, play my game," said Fleming, a 6-3 combo guard and incoming freshman. "I came out here for a reason ... I came out here to play my game. So I just let all the thinking go and just let myself play my game and wasn't thinking about anything."
He and summer vets Kaunaoa McGee and Leon Ballard combined for 94 points alone.
The sophomore Thomas, meanwhile, was on his way to another solid game before a hard fall and some back pain forced him out in the second half. He finished with 16 — his highlights included some silky midrange shots and an emphatic dunk off a standing jump.
Thomas said he'd be OK afterward. On the court, he looked bothered by contact to his sensitive skin where we was burned a couple of times, and he had his hand wrapped at one point, but brushed that off as any influence on his play.
"I'm all right. It's just a little sore," he said.
Both UH players gave the other high marks after the game, though they didn't directly cross paths during play very often. One such play came on Thomas' attempted block of a Fleming layup early on; Thomas was whistled for a foul.
"He was impressive. He was shooting real well, attacking and being aggressive," Thomas said, adding with a laugh, "I'd like to see him go right a little more. Nah, he played well. Really well."
Fleming has been impressed by the 6-8 Thomas' progress since seeing him last year on a visit to UH and playing with him in an open gym setting.
"From last year to this year, he's a hell of a player and he deserves a lot of (looks) this year," Fleming said. "I have so much respect for his game now. You seen him between last summer and now, he's developed a whole lot. I love his game."
As for other UH players in action on Tuesday, freshman point guard Brocke Stepteau had a brief appearance in Grantco Pacific's destruction at the hands of Wealth Strategy Partners, 118-91. He scored six points. That has to be frustrating for him, as Grantco lost its fourth straight. Volume scorers Christian Standhardinger and Geremy Robinson were totally unable to combat Wealth's better ball movement. Amazingly, it was a 30-point game by halftime.
In case you missed it, I reported on Tuesday a twofold scheduling update to go with a story on the NCAA's ongoing lack of resolution to its investigation of UH.
First, UH's season opener on Nov. 14 in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic has been swapped from Cal State Bakersfield to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The 'Bows will play Bakersfield — now of the reconstructed WAC — on the second day, which was the previous slot for the UAPB game. The High Point midnight game is unaffected.
And the most likely replacement for the Florida Gulf Coast game that never was finalized is Southeastern Louisiana of the Southland Conference. UH has penciled in a "TBA" slot on Jan. 2 on its schedule, so you can expect the game to appear at that date, one day earlier than the supposed FGCU game.